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Need something to watch? Here are our 50 favorite shows on Amazon Prime

Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service has come a long way since it first started offering free streaming movies and TV shows to Prime members just over four years ago. What was once a pretty scant catalog has since grown into an offering formidable enough to take on the likes of Hulu and Netflix. With the relatively recent addition of a slew of HBO series like The Wire, as well as popular BBC America series like Orphan Black, Amazon now has something to offer for nearly any viewer. So if you’re looking for a new show to binge on but aren’t quite sure which is right for you, just browse our categorized list of our favorites. After all, there’s more to Amazon Prime than simply free shipping and Transparent.

Related: Crank up the heat and stay in with the best streaming movies on Amazon Prime

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Treme

Treme

This post-Katrina New Orleans drama reunites two of our favorite actors — Clarke Peters and Wendell Pierce — as well as The Wire creators, David Simon and Eric Overmeyer. The series was praised for its realistic depiction of NOLA culture and its ensemble cast, which includes gems like John Goodman, Rob Brown, and Edwina Findley Dickerson. The series focuses on the working class neighborhood of Tremé, from which it gets its name. Beginning just three months after Hurricane Katrina, it follows Mardi Gras Indians, musicians, police, bar owners, a civil rights lawyer, and others, as they pick up the pieces, showing the challenges and resiliency of a community refusing to break despite the levees doing so.

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Amazon Prime

Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire

Oh, Steve Buscemi. We love you, especially as the tyrannical treasurer and criminal kingpin of Prohibition-era Atlantic City. With a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese and the creator of The Sopranos at his side, the series came out of the gates swinging. Scorsese’s initial direction solidified a visual aesthetic that the show’s later directors emulated, one which has since been lauded again and again. The show’s attention to historical accuracy is equally as impressive, and gives the period piece a subtlety and realistic feel rarely found elsewhere. The characters are complex, too, and their relationships with one another often encompass both sides of the love-hate coin.

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Amazon Prime

Mildred Pierce

Mildred Pierce

Another historical drama, Mildred Pierce, is a remake of the Joan Crawford’s film of the same name. Both the 1945 film and this mini-series feature captivating female leads playing the titular role— Crawford and Kate Winslet, respectively — yet each remains distinct despite the many plot similarities. This version drops the flashback construction of the original, and tones down some of the more dramatic plot twists in order to better focus on the characters and their interactions. Evan Rachel Wood gives a fantastic performance as Veda, who’s possibly the most superficial child ever portrayed in film and one desperate for an elevated position in society. Her relationship with her mother, who is incredibly capable in all matters except those with which her children are concerned, is a manipulative roller coaster that makes you despise her and root for her at the same time. And we can’t help but enjoy Guy Pearce as a cavalier playboy.

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Amazon Prime

Family Tree

Family Tree

Chris O’Dowd plays Tom Chadwick, a lovable loser who inherits a chest of “family heirlooms” from a great aunt he’s never met. The items lead him on a quest to discover his roots, which he undertakes with hilarious sincerity and focus. An elderly friend and his sister — the latter of which relies on a hand puppet for (relative) sanity — help him along the way, along with an antique story owner and his best friend. Tom follows many a wrong path on his journey to find his family, however, and the character is constantly at the mercy of creator Christopher Guest’s mockumentary style and dry use of humor. The show was also cut down in its prime and therefore only consists of one season.

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Amazon Prime

Bored to Death

Bored to Death

Bored to Death straddles the line between a stoner comedy and noir spoof, following unlicensed gumshoe Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) and his friends as they work to solve cases when Ames isn’t struggling with his writing. The show’s aesthetics are appropriately high-contrast and gritty for a comedic neonoir, too, and Woody Allen fans will appreciate the self-deprecating humor. That said, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis are the show’s real scene-stealers. The series was even created by graphic book novelist, Jonathan Ames, which makes it pretty meta.

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Amazon Prime

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

Mr Rogers

Fred Rogers created 31 seasons of what is possibly the best children’s show of all time. The show consists of Roger’s half-hour “visit” with his audiences, in which he speaks directly to his viewers. Once he enters his home and changes into his famous zip-up cardigan and blue sneakers, he creates a safe and special place through his genuineness and naturalness. Children learn about various topics, including those that deal with death, jealousy, divorce, and anger. The show also incorporates visits from Mr. Rogers’ friends, such as delivery man Mr. McFeely, and always features a “Picture Picture” segment designed to teach children how various items are made. At the end of the show, the trolley from the opening credits takes viewers to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where beloved puppets often have interactions that reflect the theme of the show.

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Amazon Prime

Shaun the Sheep

Shaun the Sheep

From Aardman Studios — the creators of Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, and Creature Comforts — comes the children’s series Shaun the Sheep. Shaun is a sheep who doesn’t follow the herd. In fact, he often brazenly leads them into all sorts of madcap shenanigans around Mossy Bottom Farm. The show also features the iconic studio’s stop-motion animation and remains free of dialogue, which is actually a welcome reprieve for parents who simply can’t get onboard with the high-pitched voices and exuberant makeup of many modern children’s shows.

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Amazon Prime

Arthur

Arthur

Arthur is the second-longest running animated series ever created (after The Simpsons), it it has remained popular with children and adults for good reason. The show promotes understanding, diversity, and reading through its titular character, Arthur, an anthropomorphic aardvark. Arthur and his friends Buster, Francine, Muffy, and Brain learn life lessons as they attend third grade at Lakewood Elementary School. Arthur’s younger sister, D.W., often steals the show as an obnoxious yet likable preschooler, sort of like a more ingenious and child-appropriate version of Stewie from Family Guy. The show’s theme song is also pretty much the only kid’s song that isn’t absolutely terrible to have stuck in your head, likely because it was performed by Bob Marley’s progeny.

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Amazon Prime

Sesame Street

Sesame Street

The inspiration behind several movies, a toy that created a buying frenzy, and its own magazine, Sesame Street is a veritable institution. The show, which has spanned 45 seasons and won more awards than its young viewers could count, takes place on an urban street where humans and Jim Henson’s muppets interact. The show also includes short animation and live-action films, pictures, and songs. It was the first children’s show to use educational goals and a curriculum to shape its content, and as such, it has taught millions of viewers around the globe about the importance of relationships, ethics, and emotions. Plus, you know, the ABCs.

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Amazon Prime

The Story of India

Story of India

British historian Michael Woods can’t possibly cover all of India’s rich history within six hours, but he makes a valiant effort. The Story of India is an episodic series replete with breathtaking cinematography of the subcontinent, one that highlights some of the most important chapters in the country’s long-running history. Wood travels to the places where historic events actually happened and speaks with other historians, archaeologists, and local people, creating a connective thread between India’s history and the present day. The series initially served as a way to mark India’s 60th anniversary of independence, and though it originally aired on the BBC2 in 2007, and it remains just as pertinent to our world today.

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Amazon Prime

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